TV Review – The Orville: Identity Part 1

TL;DR – Today we the best episode of the series so far that builds on everything that has come before and leaves you desperate for more.     

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Orville: Identity Part 1. Image Credit: Fox.


One of the few great things about 2019 is all the great Science Fiction content we are getting across the mediaverse at the moment. One of the interesting examples of this has been The Orville, a show about a bunch of misfits trying to do their best as they explore the universe. It is a show filled with flawed people, but it is also a show filled to the brim with charm. In today’s episode Identity, we get a show that takes everything we know and then flips it on its head.

So to set the scene, it is family time on the USS Orville, with Isaac (Mark Jackson) babysitting Ty (Kai Wener) and Marcus (BJ Tanner) while Claire (Penny Johnson Jerald) works late in sickbay. Everything was going well, bar the fact that Isaac always wins, and so Claire thinks it is the best time to tell the boys that they are dating, which of course they already knew. However, all of this falls apart when Isaac has a seizure and shutdowns in front of the family. There are no life signs, but then is that normal for a Kaylon? No one really knows. In a last-ditch effort, the Planetary Union authorises The Orville to head to Isaac’s home planet and hope that they can fix him. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

The Orville: Identity Part 1. Image Credit: Fox.
It is the quiet start that is your first warning that something bad is about to go down. Image Credit: Fox.

There is a lot to talk about in this episode, so today we will start by looking at some of the production elements of the episode. The first thing I really noticed in this episode was the music by John Debney. There are times when it is joyful with those big long runs up and down the strings. However, when the episode takes a turn, he takes those strings and makes them menacing with a piano setting the hairs on the back of your neck on edge. To add to this, I loved the world building of Kaylon and how they revealed it a step at a time. We begin with a mostly white planet as clouds obscure everything, then as the Orville descends, we get hints of the archologies that scrape through the clouds, until finally, we descend below the cloud layer to see the civilization underneath. Here the production designers have created a world that is both futuristic, something that looks created by machines, but also on that fits into the architecture that already exists at the real world location that they filmed in. This creates a vivid and believable world that you want to see more of, which also then gets juxtaposed by that end shot.     

The next thing you see with this first part episode is the tone of the episode. As I have mentioned, The Orville is implemented a show that smashes the serious and the absurd together. To get something like this to work requires a really fine balancing act, and while the show has been great, this is one area where they have not quite nailed it. Well, that is until now. This is an episode where you can have a going away party with Gordon (Scott Grimes) jumping into a joyful song. In the same episode as genocide, murder, and the real threat of peril and the juxtaposition works. How this works is that the cast is here for whatever the show throws at them and it really shows.  

The Orville: Identity Part 1. Image Credit: Fox.
Coexistence and working together are core drivers of the Planetary Union and this episode. Image Credit: Fox.

 This leads us into the story of the episode which combines all of these strengths into one solid episode. One of the highlights of this season has been the budding romance between Claire and Isaac, however, there has always been this looming issue in the background. Isaac is here as a diplomat/observer of sorts from Kaylon, taking data on primitive biological species and sending it back home. This has meant that at any moment he could be pulled away and sent back home. I had expected it in A Happy Refrain but the held off until this week, which was the best decision.

All throughout the episode, there has been the brooding sense that something is very wrong beyond just the cultural differences between biology and machine. There were the subtle reminders like how it made no sense that they would be stalling when they have all the data, and the less than subtle issues like how everyone other than Isaac has red eyes (which might be a little nod to I Robot). There are these layers of tension building throughout the episode that I expected something truly awful to happen when Marcus got lost. However, it is at this point where everything is revealed. The Kaylon were built by the aptly named builders and when co-existence was no longer an option they moved to extermination.

The Orville: Identity Part 1. Image Credit: Fox.
A core strength of this episode has to be the wonderful production and art design. Image Credit: Fox.

By itself, the fact that the Kaylon have a history of genocide is not that big of a revelation, though they could hop off the moral high horse about humans that they got on in the earlier part of the episode. It is not even the revelation that they are building ships to deal with the organic problem. It is that Isaac knew about this, gathered data, got into a relationship, became a father figure, knowing all this, and then he still went along with the plan to kill all life. This colours every interaction he has had from the start of the series up until now, giving everything a more sinister tone. They also reinforced this by letting the repercussions of those actions play out with the Kaylons boarding the ship and killing many of the crew before they took over the ship. Choices have consequences.

In the end, do we recommend Identity Part 1? Yes, yes we do. Now, this is part one of two, and how it gets resolved but change how we view this episode. However, I think this is the best episode of The Orville to date and shows the potential of the show when it is running at full steam. Also, it has made me desperate to see how they resolve this next week, or even if they will, and that is a great sign.            

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you seen The Orville yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.    

Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Orville
Directed by
– Jon Cassar
Written by – Brannon Braga & Andre Bormanis
Created by – Seth MacFarlane
Production/Disruption Companies – 20th Century Fox, Fuzzy Door Production, Fox Network & SBS Viceland.
Starring in Season Two – Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Jessica Szohr, J. Lee & Mark Jackson also Chad L. Coleman, Victor Garber, Graham Hamilton, Mike Henry, Robert David Grant, BJ Tanner, Kai Di’nilo Wener, Norm McDonald & Rachael MacFarlane


2 thoughts on “TV Review – The Orville: Identity Part 1

  1. Pingback: TV Review – The Orville: Identity Part 2 | TL;DR Movie Reviews and Analysis

  2. Pingback: TV Review – The Orville: The Road Not Taken and Season 2 | TL;DR Movie Reviews and Analysis

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